Intervention from acting stars Sir Ian McKellen and Stephen Fry seems set to save Britain's Hobbit-themed pub.

Hollywood mogul Saul Zaentz Company, who own merchandising and film rights to The Hobbit and other works of author JRR Tolkien, is threatening legal action to shut down the popular Southhampton pub and music venue.

Fry has described the action on Twitter as "self-defeating bullying".

McKellen said the legal threat was a pointless attempt to control the way Tolkien and his characters have impacted culture.


"I am a part-landlord of a pub called The Grapes. So far no vintners' group has objected. That would be silly of course. As is this unnecessary pettiness ...

"I haven't yet talked to Stephen Fry about his disapproval of this Hollywood bullying but I'm with him all the way. All the way to The Hobbit pub once filming is over in July," he said in a blog post supporting the venue.

A Facebook post from The Hobbit staff said a business partner of Fry had called the pub.

He and McKellen were offering to pay a license fee allowing it to continue operating, the post said.

Pub management were meeting with lawyers for Saul Zaentz Company in the hope they would be able to approve a new license and settle their dispute.

The Hobbit has traded under its name for more than 20 years.

It has the face of Lord Of The Rings star Elijah Wood on its loyalty cards and offers cocktails named after Tolkien characters Frodo and Gandalf.